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March 2007
Volume 10 / Number 3

Beyond Triple Play

In Quadruple Play, Delivering Exceptional Customer Service is
More Critical (and Difficult) Than Ever

By Richard “Zippy” Grigonis, Feature Articles



The key to increasing stickiness with bundled services is to ensure the customer has a positive brand experience despite technological complexity.

While the success of the “Triple Play” — video, high-speed internet/data, and premise-based voice convergence — has been making headlines, it’s the “Quadruple Play” and “Quad-Play Plus” that are promising to move the needle even more dramatically for increased customer value, retention and improved revenue streams. By adding mobility and focused content to the mix of the three current services, service providers have the compelling ingredient that will lure yet more customers away from single or dual services to a bundled solution of three, four, or more integrated offerings.

Now for the bad news: competition is fierce for the higher-value, bundled services customer and it’s coming from everywhere — traditional providers and many new competitive sources. With bundled services, technological innovations and industry deregulation, the traditional lines of demarcation are being moved or eliminated; resulting in mergers, consolidations, partnerships, and other business model-shifting trends.

The deciding factor that determines which companies will succeed will ultimately come down to customers’ brand experience, the majority of which is formed through customer support interactions. This article focuses on what service providers should know about the unique support challenges companies face in offering triple/quadruple service bundles and how they need to prepare to ensure the highest level of contact center service to these valuable customers.


Quad Play Takes Off with Consumers...

There’s no question that the quadruple play — with the addition of mobility — is going to be a boon for service providers and consumers alike. For customers, it’s one-stop shopping, billing simplicity, and the prospect of a lower total monthly outlay. For service providers, it offers increased customer loyalty, competitive advantage, and a higher value set of customers.

This win-win proposition is gaining steam in the market. According to research from Parks Associates, by 2010 more than one-half of broadband households will subscribe to a triple or quadruple play bundled service. IDC is forecasting a significant drop-off of double- play service over the next five years, falling to 42% of total subscriptions by 2010.


. . .While Service Providers Enjoy Increased Stickiness

Service providers already offering triple and quad play service offerings are beginning to reap the financial benefits of the multi-play strategy. One area where companies are seeing dramatic results is customer “stickiness” — or loyalty. According to Frost & Sullivan/Stratecast, in the North American cable market, a three-product subscriber is as much as 50% to 60% less likely to churn than a single product subscriber.


However, Success Requires Major Operational Changes

Whether through partnerships, acquisitions, or creating new business models, delivering a successful triple or quad play bundle will require operational changes and strategies that ensure a smooth rollout and seamless customer experience throughout. New highervalue customers represent not only increased revenues, but increased risk and expense; particularly in cases of customer churn. Therefore, getting the service delivery, operational and customer care aspects right is essential to ensure the excellent brand experience that will separate the market winners from the losers.

With technology hurdles and rapid introduction of new and changing services, the onus will fall to customer support to ensure customer satisfaction while hiding the complexity of delivering disparate services from the customer. In this high-stakes environment, customer support will need to surmount several major hurdles in order to deliver a brand experience that exceeds expectations:

• Uneven quality of services
• Integration of multiple systems and products for one bill/one voice
• Overcoming technological complexity


Quality of Services — Only as Strong as the Weakest Link

Customers purchasing bundled services will expect a high level of support, as well as consistent, high-quality experiences. In fact, each service must be uniformly good quality or it jeopardizes the entire bundle. Unfortunately, providing all the services within a bundle can be a disjointed process given the fact that products may originate from a variety of sources thanks to inherent technologies, sub-contracts, joint ventures, acquired companies, and other business models. Customer support must develop ways to shield the customer from these issues, yet deliver a coordinated view of the subscriber, and a well-orchestrated experience to questions, billing and service problems.


One Bill/One Voice — Fulfilling the One-Stop Shopping Expectation

While quad play means one-stop to customers, in reality many vendors have multiple systems across multiple service offerings making customer care anything but seamless. Regardless of where the service is ultimately originating, the customer will expect one company to support all the services provided. Care agents, business processes, and support systems will be required to integrate and align as never before.


Technological Complexity — Shielding the Customer

Customer care agents will be expected to provide support and resolutions at a higher level, across a larger matrix of products and services. Rather than the tactical challenges of a phone connection being down, cable TV being out, or DSL not working, multi-play support issues can present any combination of these issues at varying levels of complexity. Those providers that can keep the frustration of complex technology delivery invisible to the end user will be the ones most likely to succeed.

According to IDC analyst Brian Bingham, Global Director, CRM Services and F&A BPO Research, the role of the customer service representative (CSR) has evolved, especially in the communications/cable industries.

“Not only does the CSR need to understand the basic voice service offerings,” said Mr. Bingham, “but now with the introduction of quad-plus play services (voice, video, broadband, mobile, and media/content) they need to trouble- shoot complex service outage questions, understand ever-changing regulations, and a whole host of other technical processes and systems. That is why we are seeing an up-tick of traditional wireline, wireless and major cable companies gravitate towards outsourcing providers to deliver bottom line savings.”


Addressing the Customer Service Challenges of Multi-Play

The challenges of quad play require service providers to work toward customer support solutions that provide high levels of first call resolution, care agents that are multi-skilled across multiple offerings, and agents that can provide information about and processing of additional, value-added services. At the same time, intense competition for wallet share means that service providers must also ensure a cost-effective infrastructure to protect their profit margins while growing their customer base.

Companies can choose to handle the customer care function in-house, addressing the above-mentioned challenges of complexity, one voice, and quality of service through increased staffing, extensive agent training, new systems, and updated technology. Cost control can then become an issue and often results in either less than adequate staffing for call volume peaks or overcapacity, which translates into cost overruns. When the center is understaffed, call abandonment rates and call wait times escalate, payroll costs increase due to overtime hours, agents experience fatigue and burnout, processes break down, and customer satisfaction declines.


The Value of Outsourcing Some or All of Multi-Play Customer Support

When faced with the choice between internal or outsourced fulfillment of the complex customer care requirements of triple or quad+ play strategies, many companies are seeing the value of identifying and sourcing services and strategy with a trusted partner.

A proven outsourcer’s standardized processes and flexible staffing allow it to leverage experience, infrastructure and capacity, eliminating the service provider’s need to over-invest in resources. The right outsourcing partner can offer experienced management, well-trained agents and systems for the varied types of services being offered in the new bundles, ensuring superior first call resolution and customer satisfaction.

However, companies leveraging outsourcing as a cost-effective solution to the support challenges of multiplay strategies need to research and hire a business and brand partner, not merely an outsource services provider. Organizations should seek out a collaborative partner with complementary resources and technology, and a focused common interest in not just handling a subscriber event, but meeting the strategic needs of the company.


You’ve Got to Play to Win

Seen as a win-win for both consumers and service providers, the quad play strategy also brings a number of challenges with it: new and upgraded technology, disparate services and sources of services, complexity of interrelated services, and integrating business processes to provide one-stop shopping and support to the customer. Managing the total customer experience throughout the customer lifecycle will be critical to success. Quality customer care becomes the lynchpin element to ensure a seamless and satisfying subscriber experience with the multi-play bundle.

Michael Roy is Director of StarTek Solutions, (news - alert) a leading provider of Business Process Optimization services for outsourced customer interactions. Roy has 20 years in marketing, consultative sales, strategy and solutions development supporting the Telecom, Cable/Satellite and Broadband, CPG and Travel industries for such companies as AT&T, Level 3, Convergys, Comcast and Time Warner Cable. (For information about StarTek’s Quad Plus Play Services, contact StarTek today at 1-800-541-1130 or visit to read StarTek’s Quad Play Services white paper.)




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